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Phyllonorycter ex Prunus emarginata - Phyllonorycter propinquinella

Phyllonorycter ex Prunus emarginata - Phyllonorycter propinquinella
Icicle Creek, Chelan County, Washington, USA
April 30, 2013
Size: 3.5 mm

Moved from Rosaceae-feeding species.

Well, Don Davis dissected it and said it's Phyllonorycter propinquinella after all, but the barcode is rather different from this one I suspect one of these two photos will be moving again someday.

Moved from Phyllonorycter.

Prunus-feeding Phyllonorycter mentions that there are three North American Roseaceae tentiform miners, and lists Phyllonorycter propinquinella as one such species that is exclusive to Prunus. Landry and Wagner go on to write about the 4 North American Malus feeding Phyllonorycter, two of which are known to also feed on Prunus. The keys provided in that paper easily rule out the non-Prunus feeding species based on wing characters, but do not conclusively point to either of the other two (P. crataegella & P. mespilella). The paper goes on to mention though that western reports of P. crataegella are probably in error, and if so, that leaves only P. mespilella (of the spp. in that paper), an apparently variable species introduced from Europe. However, the authors recognize that there are probably one or more undescribed Phyllonorycter found on native Prunus in the west.

So those two - mespilella & propinquinella - appear to be the most likely suspects of the described Prunus-feeding Phyllonorycter from Washington with similar morphology. Though it could just as easily be undescribed (or something that I overlooked).

PS: I just now noticed in your profile that you are currently working on a new book on leaf miners. Any idea yet on when that will be published? It sounds like something that I definitely would like to have in my library.

I just got confirmation that this is "none of the above," based on genitalia and DNA. Dave Wagner is sending my specimens, along with some of his own that he thinks are the same species, to Don Davis so he can dissect and illustrate them.

Thanks for taking a look
I'm assuming it will be necessary for a specialist to dissect this one in order to get a conclusive ID. Don Davis told me earlier this year that he knows of 104 undescribed gracillariids in the US and Canada; I'm not sure how many of those might be Prunus miners. I've found at least two more gracillariids just in Massachusetts this year that were unknown to him and Dave Wagner.

I don't have a contract for the book yet, and therefore don't have a deadline. My hope is to finish the manuscript this winter, but we'll see how long it takes me to finish sorting through my 6-month backlog of photos, which I want to do before I get back to writing. I did contact an academic publisher about it and they were very interested; if for some reason that doesn't work out, I'll look into other options including self-publishing.

It's great to see your leaf mine photos--they give me a chance to try out my keys and alert me to things that haven't yet been described.

Excellent - here's hoping the whole process goes smoothly
I feel that a dedicated book on miners will be a great addition to the literature. Great to see you working on it!

I'm working through my own backlog of photos myself, so I know what that's like. I've got at least a few more leaf mines in there that I hope to share soon.

As for this moth, I think you are right that dissection is probably the best way forward. From what I've read on this genus that seems to be the most reliable way.